Leo Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina has changed readers’ lives for generations, but for one man in particular, the epic novel saved his life. Over at NPR, we learn the story of Mohamed Barud, a man who was sentenced to life in prison in Somalia for complaining about the conditions at the local hospital. During the years of his imprisonment, he exchanged knocks on the wall with an inmate in the next cell, creating a code for each letter of the alphabet. And, in this way, Barud read the entirety of Anna Karenina to the prisoner next door. “”[Barud] says it didn’t matter how different their lives seemed. This 19th-century Russian noblewoman seemed to be suffering exactly as he was. An honest suffering drives her into a state that Mohamed most feared for himself. Anna throws herself under a train and regrets it at the last moment. ‘I really cried. I felt for her.'”
Here are the first lines of some wonderful short stories from Bukowksi, Kafka, and Barthelme illustrated with simple 8 bit images. And here are eleven American movie posters rendered by artist Murat Palta in the style of classic Ottoman art. I especially dig the one based on Scarface.
“The problem is that young children have terrible taste and enjoy garbage. Another problem, which compounds the first problem, is that they want to hear the same books hundreds of times in a row. So for all the joys that storytime can offer, it frequently entails a kind of dismal self-abnegation that’s too excruciating even to describe as tedium—an actively painful sense of my precious time on earth being torn from my chest and tossed into a furnace.” Gabriel Roth writes about the terrible Poky Little Puppy for Slate, and his complaints pair well with Jacob Lambert‘s Millions series, “Are Picture Books Leading Our Children Astray?” and “Again, I Ask…“
“This is worth repeating to yourself every day as you sit down at your keyboard: You must write to the end of the story. You must make progress toward that end today. A sentence, a paragraph, a chapter. You must push the story forward, forward, forward. Don’t stop until you get to the end.” Hugh Howey on the Amazon Author Insights blog about how to write a rough draft. Pair with a popular and wonderfully motivating piece by Nick Ripatrazone, “Don’t Worry. Don’t Wait. Write.”
“Reading Literary Twitter is to witness brief, terse glimpses into the writerly psyche, and how insecure and unsure and thin-skinned we tend to be. As writers, we want to be validated. We want to matter. The published stories and poems and essays, the books we sell, the magazines we edit: all this output, this paper expelled out to the world, the screens we invade with our narratives, it all matters to us. But does it matter to everyone else?” mensah demary writes about the good, the bad, and the slightly neurotic of being a writer on Twitter for Electric Literature.
Congratulations to Millions contributor Edan Lepucki who received the 2009 James D. Phelan Award for her novel manuscript, Days of Insignificance and Evil. The award is given by the Intersection for the Arts and sponsored by the San Francisco Foundation. She’ll be reading, along with Page McBee and Youmna Chlala, at the Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco on Monday, November 16th at 7:30.
“Their deliberately childless life, their cat, Converse (named not for the shoe but for the political scientist), their free-range beef and nights and weekends of reading and grading and high-quality television series—it was fine and a little horrible. She gets it.” It shouldn’t take much convincing to get you to go and read some new fiction by Curtis Sittenfeld, Gender Studies, over at The New Yorker.